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Friday Fashionistas: Edna Woolman Chase

Friday, January 6, 2012

                        “Fashion can be bought. Style one must possess”- Edna Woolman Chase 

My first Friday Fashionista is a less well known lady but was more influential to fashion than Elizabeth Taylor. She was the editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine from 1914-1952 and responsible for the first fashion show in the United States. Meet Edna Woolman Chase.


The Lady
Edna Woolman Chase was born in new Jersey in 1877. She moved to New York when she was a young woman and got a job at age 18, working at the mail room at Vogue, addressing envelopes. She was a smart woman and an enthusiastic,  hard worker. In 16 years, she went from mail room girl to managing editor of Vogue Magazine. She became Editor-In-Chief in 1914


Her Legacy
During World War I, all of the best fashion designers were based in Paris but in its war-ravaged state, Paris designers had to close their doors.  Vogue's fashion spreads and stories came from those designers. The new Editor-in-Chief had to take matters into her own hands if she wanted her magazine to get through the war.
invitation to the first fashion show in the US
She compiled the best designers in New York in America's very first fashion show, "Fashion Fete" sponsored by Vogue magazine and high society ladies of the time. The fashion show raised funds to benefit the war effort, lifted spirits of everyone in the fashion industry and changed the fashion world forever. Designers got the hint from Chase and started creating truly unique lines of clothing at affordable prices for the everyday woman. Under her control, Vogue not only survived through 2 world wars, it thrived.
fashion spread from Vogue 1914, the year of Edna's first fashion show

  ”Concentrate completely on showing the dress, light it for this purpose, and if that can’t be done with art then art be damned. Show the dress.”  -from Edna to Vogue photographers, 1939

 Edna Woolman Chase truly loved fashion and because of her drive, Vogue went from a small weekly newspaper to the haute couture magazine that we know today.

In addition to her 38 years as Editor-In-Chief, Chase founded the Fashion Group International in the 1930's, which set out to promote fashion trends, fashion education and business.  During World War II, she helped to redesign uniforms for women in the military, giving them a more feminine, graceful style.

For more about Edna Woolman Chase and her adventures in fashion, read her book, "Always in Vogue".



Get the Look
As you can imagine, Edna had an impeccable sense of style. She preferred Victorian styled clothes and couldn't stand open toe shoes. She loved light and muted shades of blue and graceful lines in her clothing. Edna once said, "Women  seem to have forgotten that men are lured by mystery," she explained.  "There is not much thrill left for them in the styles of today." It's difficult to imagine what outfit Edna might put together so I've found some of my favorite images from Vogue during her administration. Edna believed that the 1920's was the golden age for Vogue and by the magazine covers, I agree!

Vogue 1922

Vogue 1933





10 Responses to “Friday Fashionistas: Edna Woolman Chase”

  1. Wow, I really want a print of that 1933 cover, will have a look! x

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  2. What a nice post:) Thanks! My grandmothers name was Edna and she also worked as an editor. These images reminded me so much of her.

    I agree with Edna..men need some mystery, although boys certainly respond to exhibition-lol

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  3. Lynne, that is so neat about your grandmother! There's something to be said about Ednas, I think! :)

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  4. Something she said so long ago, remains true today "Women seem to have forgotten that men are lured by mystery," she explained. "There is not much thrill left for them in the styles of today." She was very much ahead of her time and such a lovely woman.

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  5. I didn't know her, thanks to share!
    I own a books about vogue covers before using photographies, it's really art! But my favorites ones are still the late 30's to mid 50's ones!
    I have just noticed: CONGRATULATIONS for your 1000 followers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. Love this post-very educational-I want to rd her book now! And CONGRATS on 1,000..you deserve every one and more!!! xox

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  7. I love the issues from when she was editor-in-chief. They're gorgeous! Take that, Anna Wintour! ;-)

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  8. I love this new feature! Really well-written and interesting.

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  9. just found your lovely blog! my husband and I are (hopefully) moving into a little 50's style rental home, and I can't wait to get my hands dirty decorating the place. Your blog definitely gives inspiration :)

    http://bottleblack.blogspot.com

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  10. Fascinating stuff. I knew a lot about Edna and even own a few vogues from her period, but I had never seen images of the woman herself!

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